About 3 years ago, I started to really re-think about the foods I was bringing into my home. Let me give you a quick backstory first. I am what you might call a junk-food-aholic. I absolutely despise cooking, baking or anything that requires me doing dishes. So, my go-to was pre-made, processed food...aka crappy food. And that is how I lived for many years, it's even how I raised my oldest child, who is now 17. Then I had a baby 7 years ago. New research was out, there were moms blogging, there were people actually talking about what was healthy for my kids. I swore I wouldn't become a "chicken nugget mom" with my second child and that she would only eat all natural everything, organic everything and never have red dye. That lasted about one year. I was a working mom, I was so crazy busy and it was just easier to grab pre-made meals or snacks that didn't require me extra work.
But I started to notice a trend. It wasn't pretty. I was literally feeding myself and my family crappy food that made us feel crappy and gave us some intense behavior problems as well as intense health problems. I began reading again, I began researching again. These trends I was noticing were happening when we were eating certain foods. It was time for a change. I knew I couldn't do it overnight because my family would have probably murdered me for taking away every Oreo cookie, every Dorito and every Kraft Mac & Cheese box from the house, so I had to take baby steps. I'm going to share my first baby step to getting crappy food out of my house with you but want to first give you some seriously shocking information about the foods you may be accustomed to eating and feeding your babies too.
Have you ever heard of RED 40? This was the very first thing I began looking for in everything I purchased at the grocery store. From pickles, to BBQ sauce, to drinks we drank daily. After doing research I began to take note of every time my kids would have Red 40. My notes made me want to cry. That dye was making my girls (especially my oldest) have major behavioral issues. I'm talking anger, temper, mood swings, anxiety, and so much more. When she wouldn't have the dye for a few days, it was gone....gone! I mean there was the occasional temper, the snippy attitude but the brunt of it was gone! So, these articles and research I was reading was actually legit! That RED 40 was really bad for my kids. I made the decision no longer allow it in our diets. (I'll touch more on this shortly) Check out these articles on RED 40 and see what you think -
So often, now I sit back now and watch parents that tell me how they cannot get control of their child's behavioral issues but yet the child is sitting there sucking on a RED lollipop or drinking a Hawaiian Punch or even Gatorade. It's because they aren't informed, our doctors don't tell us these things and unless we read a gazillion research studies or articles we won't know. The information is out there, it's just a matter of us finding it and being empowered to make changes. I want to share what I can, to anyone that will listen so they too can be aware and make the right decisions for their family. It's something I still try to do daily, and keep reading because I promise I am not that perfect parent with a perfect diet for myself or my children yet, but each day, I strive to do better.
My first baby step recommendation is to start looking for artificial colors. It's one of the easiest things to find in your diet. Check your labels for those dyes. Label Reading is one of the easiest things you can do for yourself & your family. I know you might say, who has time for that? Trust me I didn't have time for that, but once you know what you are looking for it becomes second nature. Think of it like this...if you could help your child or even yourself with behavioral issues, with just a simple elimination of dyes, would you do it? Flip those packages over and read those ingredients. Begin with the dyes, if you see a artificial color...put it back. There you go, baby step done!
Am I am perfect ALL THE TIME? Heck no, check out some things I pulled out of my cupboard today that have dye in them. Do my kids eat these?? Yep, sadly I let them, do I know the consequences, yep! It's my own fault. I let these things come into my home. So, I do not judge you, I do not sit back and say to myself what a terrible person you are because your child is drinking a Gatorade or eating fruit snacks, because guess what, I bought these for my kids. But they are the only three things you'll find in my cupboards right now with these ingredients. I make a conscious effort to eliminate those dyes, but again, I am certainly not perfect. I'm informed now and can make better choices. Some days I win, some days I fail.
Mommas, be empowered, read the labels and begin with this simple baby step. I promise it will make you feel better as a momma, knowing you did something right for them. But don't beat yourself up when you allow some to sneak into the pantry. I was vulnerable and showed you mine. It's okay to slip up, it's okay to not be perfect all the time. Baby steps are good and if this is your first step moms, kudos to you. Let's do this together one step at a time. I'll be back next week to share baby step #2! It's an easy swap and you'll love it. -Sarah